When a person experiences an involuntary loss of urine, it is called urinary incontinence (UI). This condition can occur for a number of reasons such as coughing, sneezing, sexual activity, or due to total loss of control. Compared to men, women are twice as likely to experience UI. At West Jefferson Medical Center, our Urology department takes care to help our patients understand their condition and make informed decisions regarding the right treatments.
What is urinary incontinence?
As a person grows older, their muscles weaken, including those of the bladder and the urethra. This means that when pressure from urine pushes against the openings in the urinary system, urine is more likely to leak out uncontrollably.
UI can be caused by:
- Brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Birth defects
- Coughing, sneezing, and laughing
Diagnosis & treatment of UI
To learn more about your condition, physicians will go over the patient’s medical history to look for any obvious clues. They may also have the patient keep a diary of how often they are urinating. After reviewing any patterns, the doctor will perform a physical examination to assess bladder control.
Other physical tests could include:
- Bladder test – Checks for incontinence during activities like coughing, sneezing, or laughing
- Urinalysis – Chemical analysis to detect excess materials that suggest urinary health problems
- Imaging via ultrasound – Uses sound waves to create an image of the internal urological organs
- Cystoscopy – Camera inspection that enters from the urethra opening
- Urodynamics – Tests the pressure in the bladder and from the urine flow
As many problems leading to UI are muscle-related, many treatment plans will focus on muscle growth and control, such as learning Kegel exercises which are geared toward regaining control of muscles inside the vagina.
Other treatment options could include:
- Starting new medication or stopping an existing prescription
- Injections that firm up bladder control muscles
- Biofeedback that teaches patients where their control problems lie
- Lifestyle changes such as exercising more, stopping smoking, and reducing alcohol and coffee intake
If you have further questions about urinary incontinence or another urological concern, speak with our clinic by calling 504.934.8100.